Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos has said it before and he said it again tonight: The Marine Corps will demonstrate its fidelity to the constitution of the United States by implementing the new policies that will govern the service of openly gay men and women in the military.
“As stated during my testimony before Congress in September and again during hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, the Marine Corps will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new policy, ” Amos said in a statement released Sunday evening.
He and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent, he said, “will personally lead this effort thus ensuring the respect and dignity due all Marines.”
“On this matter, we look forward to further demonstrating to the American people the discipline and loyalty that have been the hallmark of the United States Marine Corps for over 235 years,” Amos said.
The 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which prohibits openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military, was repealed Saturday in a 65-31 Senate vote. The measure had been passed by the House of Representatives Dec. 15 in a 250-175 vote. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law this week.
The new rules won’t go into practice for months while a plan is refined by the Defense Department. In the meantime, the law remains in effect as is.
As momentum grew to repeal the law, Amos carried a strong message for the Corps against repeal of the law, telling reporters on Dec. 14 that he didn’t want to “lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda with no legs to be the result of any type of distraction.”
His comments drew fire from gay rights groups and political and military observers, but Amos’ words echoed those of former Commandant Gen. James Conway, who said the Corps “recruit a certain type of young American, a pretty macho guy or gal” and that openly gay Marines would not be a good fit.
In a Defense Department survey on repeal of the law, more than half of the Marines who took the survey registered opposition to its repeal.